Khmer genocide trial this year

Four top Khmer Rouge leaders have had their appeals against the cases against them thrown out, paving the way for another major genocide trial later this year. The four face charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and related crimes under Cambodian laws in connection with the deaths of up to two million people between 1975 and 1979 from starvation, overwork and execution. The accused are the communist regime's most senior surviving members, Nuon Chea ('Brother number 2'), former foreign minister Ieng Sary, his wife and ex-social affairs minister Ieng Thirith, and former head...

Obama: the will of South Sudan's people has to be respected

“ The historic vote is an exercise in self-determination long in the making . “The international community was united in its belief that this referendum had to take place and that the will of the people of southern Sudan had to be respected, regardless of the outcome. “ If the south chooses independence, the international community, including the United States, will have an interest in ensuring that the two nations that emerge succeed as stable and economically viable neighbors.” - President Obama. See his op-ed in the New York Times here .

ANC's 99th anniversary

The African National Congress (ANC), Africa's oldest liberation movement, celebrates the 99th anniversary of its founding today. See South African president and ANC leader Jacob Zuma’s speech marking the event here . 2011 also marks two 50th anniversaries: the forming in 1961 of the ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (‘Spear of the Nation’), co-founded by Nelson Mandela, and the awarding of the 1960 Nobel Peace Prize (held over for a year) to the then president-general of the ANC, Chief Albert Luthuli . Explaining the ANC’s decision to take up armed struggle, Mr. Mandela, who argued within...

India’s strategy …

“Such is India's footprint on so many transnational challenges - from climate change to pandemics to the international trade regime - that no table deciding on them would be complete without its presence. [This] may even explain India's rise far better than geopolitics ever will. India's and the world's growing awareness of this fact is expanding its presence in global governance structures, as seen in the endorsements for its bid for the UN Security Council. “India's intent is clear. It is turning ‘non-alignment’ on its head. Without sacrificing the fundamental principle of not entering...

Iraq’s Kurds resume drive for self-determination

Massoud Barazani, president of the Kurdish semi-autonomous region of Iraq, threw a bombshell at the opening session of the 13th general assembly of his party – the Kurdish Democratic Party – in the region’s capital Arbil. The Kurdish people has a right to self-determination, he said, adding that the Kurds were a separate and united nation and that their right to self determination – to decide their own fate – was self-evident and based on international treaties stipulating that all peoples had that right. Implementing that right would now be the immediate goal of his party . See Zvi Mazels’...

Who can vote in Sudan’s referendum?

According to the referendum commission, anyone who has a parent or ancestor from a southern tribe indigenous to the south can vote on January 9. Also anyone who has been permanently resident, or whose parents or grandparents have been in the south since the January 1, 1956 independence can vote. Voting will occur not only in southern Sudan, but throughout Sudan for people of southern origin, and in eight countries that have large populations of southern Sudanese: Australia, Canada, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and the United States . See Al-Jazeera’s Q & A on ‘The...

Palestinians seek statehood in 2011

Palestinian leaders, determined to proclaim their state in the coming year, are readying an arsenal of diplomatic alternatives to frozen negotiations with Israel. The Palestinians’ strategy centres on a proclamation of statehood in September 2011 - when the United Nations holds its next General Assembly. If the Palestinians lose this battle, they are considering calling for their territories to be placed under international administration.

New UN convention on ‘disappearances’ becomes law

An international convention aimed at preventing ‘disappearances’ - a fate affecting tens of thousands of people throughout the world - came into force last week. The International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance , first launched by the UN General Assembly in 2006, became law following its ratification last month by the minimum 20 states. Another sixty states have also signed the Convention. "It is an important achievement in the struggle against a cause of indescribable fear and sorrow for hundreds of thousands of people worldwide." - Olivier Dubois of...

‘It is time for South Sudan to break free’

“ Self-determination is the only way that the people of south Sudan will be able to join the modern world . I want my people to have ownership of their land, to have ownership of their future and their destiny.” “I am certain that the popular vote will be won in favour of independence. It is the will of the people. … I hope very much that the international community will take note and help us.” - Tobiolo Almero Olberto, member of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM). See his call for international support here . Meanwhile, in the north, a group of radical Muslim clerics on Friday...

Argentina’s Videla gets life for crimes against humanity in 'Dirty War'

Former Argentine military ruler Jorge Videla has been sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity, the BBC reports . The general is accused of being the main architect of what became known as Argentina's ‘ Dirty War ’ – a period of state-sponsored terror friom 1976 to 1983 in which up to 30,000 people were killed or ‘disappeared’. See a survivor’s account here . An Argentine court, however, found Gen Videla, 85, guilty of a specific crime : the torture and murder of 31 prisoners in 1976. During the Dirty War, Argentina’s dictatorship was then supported by the United States in the...

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